LESSONS IN BED
THE first thing I learnt in my first Indian hospital was that there i
is only one trained nurse to every 65.000 Indians, f
On a basis of population this figure corresponds, roughly, with
200 nurses for the whole Dominion of Canada. Or if that is too
far away, with two nurses for a town the size of Brighton,
The next thing I learnt was that in the City of Peshawar alone
there were 60,000 cases of tuberculosis. The type-setter has not
made a misprint, the noughts are as they should be, the figure
is sixty thousand. So that if we allotted only one nurse to every
ten of these unfortunates, we would need to employ the entire nursing
community of India in the city of Peshawar alone. And not so vast
a city, at that.
These figures used to dance through my brain at night, as I lay
watching the shadows on the ceiling. One for every 65,000...
65,000^ym^for one.. /Nurse! Nurse !' It was gruesome, and
in a strange way, humiliating. If 65,000 were in need of one,
what right had a patient like myself to the almost exclusive
attentions of two ? It seemed shameful to be lying in bed under
a bell which would summon a nurse who was needed by 65,000
people in pain.
Pain, 'Every philosophy,51 thought, in those lone nights under
the flickering shadows,'ought to start by defining its attitude to
the word "pain.''5 Pain was the ultimate judge; the acid test.
Wilde was right when he wrote that 'at the birth of a child and
a star there is pain/
Pain should be the daily and nightly preoccupation of the
politician ; it lies at the beginning and end of every road; it is the
pain of the soldier that we should remember when we are balanc-
ing the scales of war and peace, and the pain of the hungry when
we are making our budgets. Yet the trend of politics is more and
more impersonal. We wax so passionate aboiit'-systems of book-.
keeping that we forget that behind the figures there are faces. It